Sunday, 5 August 2012

Your Power, Your Government

Power is not evenly distributed in society. And history provides a constant reminder that those who manage to get away with amassing ever more power over others will have growing opportunities to take unfair advantage over the rest. Power struggles between individuals only perpetuate the structure of dominance.

The only way to break out of the cycle of arbitrary control by the powerful is where society invests its collective power into a government over which it exercises democratic control. Through their government, citizens can then ensure no individuals or groups can be so powerful as to harm others without being held to account by a public authority to which they must submit.

Unfortunately in practice, not all those who bid for political power will necessarily serve the common good. Some have an impressive command of rhetoric, matched only by their lack of competence in tackling real problems. Others are adept at deceiving the public when their goal is to exploit the reins of government to help themselves and their friends. But sweepingly curtailing the power of government would hamper those who have an effective plan to secure a just order for all, and unwittingly help private oppressors who can only be deterred by a robust state.

To live in freedom, we have to shoulder the responsibility for distinguishing between contenders for political office – between those who will maintain a balance of power that will enable all to interact without fear or inferiority; and those who will accentuate power differences by handing even more power and resources to the already strong to lord over their fellow citizens.

We need to expose self-defeating cynicism that dismisses all government activities, and increase public understanding of political words and deeds. If you would like to help ‘Question the Powerful’ by writing about political leaders and the impact of their actions, get in touch and we will send you a simple set of specifications for your contributions. Whatever country you live in, your government exists to exercise collective power on your behalf. The more is known if that power is actually used for the common good, the less likely would it be misused for private gains.

[If you want to get involved, email Henry Tam:]